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Published: Friday, 6/29/2007

Anticipation high for i-deal gadget

BY MARK REITER
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

The phone hasn t been exactly ringing off the hook, but Andy Dempster isn t surprised at the number of telephone inquiries being made to his store about the new, high-tech Apple iPhone.

This is an evolutionary product. In 10 years, we will be looking back and calling this a milestone in the history of communication devices, said Mr. Dempster, the manager of MacCafe, 5610 Monroe St. in Sylvania. The shop sells Apple computers, iPods, and equipment.

The much-anticipated iPhone, which combines a phone with music and video-playing capabilities, instant messaging, and Web browsing, will not be available at MacCafe when they go on sale today.

Instead, the newest generation of smart phone will be sold only at company-owned AT&T stores. Locally, there are two: 1392 Conant St., in Maumee, and 4906 Monroe St., in Toledo. Cingular Wireless, a unit of AT&T, has a multiyear exclusive agreement to provide U.S. service for the iPhone.

AT&T spokesman Bob Beasley said the stores will close at 4:30 this afternoon to prepare for the launch and reopen from 6 to 10 p.m.

The iPod can also be purchased at Apple-owned stores, but there are none in the Toledo area.

The iPhone is being touted as a big improvement in the wireless generation of smart phones.

Instead of a miniature keypad, it has a virtual 3.5-inch touch screen that allows users to navigate between playing songs and videos, typing e-mail, and making phone calls.

It will enable customers, analysts say, to do the same things on the phone as they do now on their computers, such as watch television shows, download maps, and swap videos. It has a 2-megapixel camera.

The iPhone will have up to eight hours of talk time, six hours of Internet time, and seven hours of video playback.

People have been lined up at some stores nationally, including some in Ohio, to try to snare one of the expected limited number of phones.

No lines existed at either of the two metro Toledo stores yesterday afternoon.

Neither Apple nor AT&T is saying how many phones each store will receive.

The iPhone will be sold at 1,800 stores nationally. The device also can be ordered on Apple s Web site.

More than 1 million people have signed up to receive information on the unit. Apple hopes to sell 10 million of the devices in 2008.

Mr. Dempster said his store began receiving calls from people asking for the devices shortly after Apple CEO Steve Jobs debuted the iPhone in January.

I won t be surprised if there will be lines outside both Toledo stores, he said.

Mr. Dempster doesn t believe the phone s price tag of $499 to $599, depending on memory, will deter buyers, nor will the monthly plans that begin at $59.99.

Among the main competitors of iPhone are Motorola Q, Blackberry Curve, Treo 750, and Samsung BlackJack.

Mr. Dempster anticipates that the device will generate business for his store as buyers of the product will purchase related Apple equipment. That happened with the iPod when it was launched years ago.

If supplies run out tonight, orders will be taken and iPhones will be shipped to customers without charge, Mr. Beasley said.

Coming tomorrow: A review of the iPhone.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6096.



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